tv Your Business MSNBC November 9, 2013 5:30am-6:00am EST
revitalizing the economy, and american express open is here to help. that's why we are proud to present "your business" on msnbc. ♪ hi there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg, and welcome to "your business." the show that champions entrepreneurship and gives you tips and advice to help your small business grow. selling a product or a service that you created, one that's your baby, can be easy, because it comes straight from your heart. getting other people to sell it with as much passion, well, that's a big ask. today we introduce you to the company laloop and it's founder elizabeth monroe who had to learn the trick to hiring good sales reps. when liz whether first started her company laloop in 2000, she
did all the el issing herself. >> we were et kraing a category, and the only person who could explain that and convince retailers of that was me. >> laloop takes functional products and makes them stylish. its signature product is this necklace which doubles as a glasses holder. elizabeth created it after losing her fifth pair of sunglasses in a year when she went to a fancy madison avenue store to find an accessory to help her, all she could find were -- >> old-fashioned granny leashes and couldn't quite believe that this was all that was on the market. so we came up with this product. >> reporter: laloop started to take off. elizabeth got them into that madison avenue store and they were featured as a great gift for mom in the "new york times." >> and in that week, between the time it was in the "new york times" to mother's day, that store sold 1,000 laloops. >> reporter: word got around. celebrities started wearing them. other stores started calling
shts and it was clear to elizabeth that she couldn't handle this on her own. >> as we started selling to all of these stores i realized that i couldn't be in all of these places. and so much of the work i do is training stores how to sell the product. i have three children, and like to, you know, see them from time to time. so finding sales people was crucial to the growth of my business. >> reporter: finding just any old sales person is easy. but finding the right sales person, that takes a lot of work. elizabeth started talking to store managers to see who they liked working with. >> because if the store has a relationship with close -- close relationship with the sales rep and wants them in their store, likes working with them, then that's a sale rep i want to work with. >> reporter: but so does everyone else, so before getting a rep to sell laloop, elizabeth first had to sell them on working for the company. >> the good ones, you know, you have to court, and you have to share your story, and you have to make them want you.
>> reporter: this was one of those good ones. he joined laloop early on. >> i imagine a lot of companies approach you and want you to sell their products, because you are successful. so how did laloop get you to come on when you had so many other choices? >> well, it really was about elizabeth, and her passion for the product and the fact that she was really showing me something that was new and different. >> reporter: and even once elizabeth was able to recruit talent, her sales job to the sales people wasn't over. she says it never really is. >> if you have sales reps who are selling, you know, three, five, 20 other products, how do you get them to focus on your product as much as you need them to? >> that is really what we do, we think about, every day, and they're independent sales reps so they manage their own business, but we have to make sure that we stay top of line, and so when they go in to a store and work with a retailer,
you know, you want to make sure that they're showing your collection first. >> reporter: at the root of every sale, whether it's to get reps onboard, getting stores to carry the product, or ultimately getting a cust another buy one is the story of laloop. how it started, how wearing one makes you feel, and why elizabeth cares so much about it. >> at the end of the day, what's most important is that that end customer feels that same passion and that same oomph, i guess, fire for the product, that we have. >> reporter: and because that story is so important, everyone agrees. no matter how great the sales rep, there's something about the founder that gets everyone's attention. >> when you sell to a new retailer or have a new line is it helpful for you to have elizabeth with you? >> always. you know, elizabeth brings a certain cachet when she comes in, because now, she is the source. >> we live in a world where people want to identify with things now. they want to have more of a
personal connection to things that they're going to invest in rather than just knowing they're buying some mass-produced piece of whatever, you know, that they can get anywhere. they want to know that something is special and feel as if it's something they can make a personal connection to for a long time. >> reporter: to deal with this, elizabeth came up with a new solution. videos. >> the videos explain who we are. they talk about, you know, how to sell laloop in the store. they talk about the teerms we use. they talk about, you know, how to merchandise the product. they share our story. >> it's like taking elizabeth out on the road with me, for run wrt through these store managers are better able to feel the brand. >> you can feel elizabeth's passion just through a lens. so you connect with that immediately and you share that, and that's what it's all about is really sharing-it is sharing that. >> even through just that little video, they connect to the product. you know ja? and i feel they get to know her like she's their friend and
they're supporting their friend. >> reporter: today, laloop is in 1,000 stores worldwide and growing. elizabeth says while she has a team of people to go into stores for her, she'll never give up selling herself. why not? >> i absolutely love it. there's something just thrilling that puts me on the edge of my seat, and, you know, i just think at the end of the day, it connects me more than the end customer. as elizabeth found out it's important not to just hire any sale person, but someone who really understand and embrace what's they're selling. turning to this week's "board of directors." heather, creator of shapewear yummy by heather and one of the "real housewives" which you can see on bravo, and company biz media, covering small business and entrepreneurship. great to see you both. heather, you are perfect to talk to about this. you hired a sales rep.
>> i did. >> did you have to churn through a bunch to get a good one? >> yes. absolutely's she really nailed it perfectly. it's that you have to find the good one, and the good ones you have to court, and you have to be able to sell a sales person, as the business owner, you have to breathe the fire, you have to have the passion. so that they want a piece of that passion. >> okay, reba, talking about money. how do you -- do you incentivize people through money or, no? is that kind of losing game in the end? >> people go into sales because they want to make money. right? i don't think you can ever go wrong as doing this through money. but it's part of making them a part of this venture. particularly when introducing a new product, it's that you get to be part of this pioneering team that's going to bring this product to stores throughout america or throughout the world. so i think if you get them wrapped up in their heart in making an impact, that really helps as well. >> i think, also, reba, this idea, and you said bringing a
part of the team, not just you have sales people, you send them off, but you constantly are in touch with them and making them feel like they're not independent but rather a part of your company? >> right. >> exactly. particularly in the early stages, and that could be the first five years or something. sort of like she said. go on a sales call with them and that video i think is a brilliant idea so it's you and them together. you're not just sort of casting off this manufacturers' rep. >> tell me, how you started, i imagine you sold yourself when you started your company? >> yes, sold a ton. >> and then brought on your first sales rep. what was it like and how did you make sure that person first time they went off on their own that they were representing you the way you wanted them to represent? >> i didn't send them off right away. the most important hire in a new business is the person that's spreading your business. so i was a one-man show and then we went as a team.
when did a lot together. when she could finish my sentences and speak my speak i knew she was -- >> ready to play. now you have everyone in-house? >> yes. >> how did you make that decision? >> not an easy decision. really not an easy decision at all, because you work with independent reps, and as they build the brand and business. when dealing with department stores and the department store business a lot of decisions need to be made corporately. what happens an independent rep keeps having to check back in with the mother ship. eventually when you're growing your business and get to a certain volume it's important to bring all that inside for the same reasons that we were talking about is, really being part of the family truly. >> all right. okay. heather and reba, thanks so much. we were just talking about selling, it's not easy, but it is one of the key skills every entrepreneur must the master to grow think business. every entrepreneur sure read. one, "spin selling" real world
examples, graphics and case studies, why you might want to reconsider traditional sales methods. two, "secrets of closing the sale." whether your company is selling products or services, you can find out key information on closing even the most difficult sales. three, "what great sales people do." get tips on selling skills and training based on research from various industries. it's a great beginners guide for entrepreneurs new to sales. four, "advanced selling strategies." by brian tracy. drawing from his own successful sales career, he shares way you, too, can follow in his footsteps, and five, "how to win friends and influence people" by dale carnegie. learn how to make people like you and how to deal with people so that they can feel important and appreciated. like many americans out there, small business owners are
having trouble with the problems associated with implemented the affordable care act. health and human services secretary kathleen sebelius and other administration officials reveal that the federal website letting small business owners shop for plans won't be ready until late november. meanwhile, some small business owners are getting a rude awakening. despite assurances from the white house people could keep their current plans, many small business owners are getting cancellation notices because their current plans don't kplcoy with the new law. helping us sort this out is tom hart, president of the national association of health underwriters and the president of landmark benefits incorpor e incorporated, and steve roeper is the president of roeper insurance and financial services. great to see both of you. >> thank you. >> good morning. >> so, tom, let me start with you. let me give you the first scenario. i am a company, and i have less than 50 employees. i don't have to provide insurance, but i would like to. i'm not currently providing it.
what do i do? >> well, my first recommendation to any one of those small business ace cross theountry is don't go to melt care.kovsh first. the technical aspects of healthcare.gov are uncertain at best until the end of the year. the best thing find a local agent or broky who can help them navigate through the challenges of the health care system and help them find the most economic solution for their employees and their dependents. more importantly, helping to make sure that whatever physician or provider that they have for their health care is part of their network. >> okay. so steve, this doesn't sound so different than what i would have done last year if i were a small business, under 50 people, and wanted to provide insurance for my employees. >> that's right. with the affordable care act that did come out, they have exchanges set up. 17 states, colorado being one. they've set up their own exchanges and all of them actually are faring a lot better than the government site, and
so, but it is very confusing. as tom mentioned. the one thing, to keep in mind, as, which the average public does not know, is brokers are a free service. so insurance brokers out there, they are dedicated to their clients, and they're helping clients to find what's right and exactly right for them. >> but, steve, indeed, if you are a small business and do go on one of these exchanges, can you get a tax credit. right? >> you can, but a broker can help you actually get the tax credit and the irs has a great website set up where you can actually calculate or actually your broker can help you calculate what that tax credit would be for you and your employees, to see how much it would be. >> bringing um a question we received on facebook. i'll read it to you now from sheri. she writes -- i and my husband are self-employed business owner/operators. we are self-insured. is it better to continue with my regular insurance company highmark, or go to the
government site? how do you answer that person, tom? >> well, every individual has a separate circumstance, and there's no true single answer that is best for any person across the country. the fact is, health insurance is complicated, and it's ever more complicated today than it was 15 years ago. so you have to go through a comprehensive process, regardless if you are a single individual, small business or large business, to explore all of your options. whether you're self-insured or fully insured, you have to really go through the process to figure that out. >> what's the benefit of me getting insurance through one of the exchanges or otherwise versus just telling my employees, okay. now you can go to the exchange individually? >> starting january 1st, it is law, due to the aca that every individual in america has to purchase insurance. so whether you get it through your employer, which in the past most people have gotten their insurance through employers, or now, where people can go out and buy guaranteed issue, individual coverage, through the exchange, and they're looking at getting
subsidies. so a lot of people will be able to get their individual insurance with a large subsidy, paying a large percentage of their insurance cost, which is very, very beneficial. >> i am a company. i don't want to actually have the headache of providing insurance for my many employees, but i would like to help them with it because i want to help them out. i just don't have the manpower to deal with the logistics of it. is there a way that makes financial sense that i could provide my employees with some money that they can go out to the exchanges to get their own insurance? >> well, first of all that particular employer is the exception not the rule. most small employers including myself prefer and enjoy to provide comprehensive benefits to their employees but at the same time for that particular employer that wants to provide access to affordable and accessible health insurance, yes they can work through the compensation systems that they provide to their employees so that they can provide some necessarily funds in order to have access to the health
insurance, but at the same time, an employer can't do it by themselves. quite frankly, if an employer doesn't understand the challenges of health care reform and complicated aspects of health insurance, neither are their employees and it gets back to the original point. finding a local agent or broker to help through the compliance, wellness programs and quite frankly trying to provide the best value for health insurance, you really have to see it a local agent or broker that can help you navigate through that process, and as steve said, a website that list all 50 states of agents and brokers qualified and competent and professional to help with all of those challenges. >> tom and steve, thank you for helping us mine through this issue. it is incredibly complicated and we're just at the beginning of it. hopefully it will get let complicated as we go on. thanks so much for joining us. when we come back, heather and reba will answer your business questions. they'll tell us what they think about a viewer who says, women business owners are harder to win over than men. and small business owners on
main street in east greenwich rhode island came up with great ways to get customers to shop local on small business saturday. ♪ this is how we do, yeah ♪ ♪ you get your coffee here. you get your hair cut here. you find that certain thing you were looking for here, but actually you get so much more. when you shop at these small local businesses, you support all the things that make your community great. the money you spend here, stays here. in this place you call your neighborhood. small business saturday is november 30th. get out and shop small.
a new survey by small business site shows 50% of small business owner are maintaining their current sales strategies for the shortened hot day season by starting promotions earlier, leverager social media and increasing marketing. 22% said promotions like small business saturday are making a difference in their business. so what do some entrepreneurs have in mind to get customers to shop local? we go to east greenwich, rhode island to see what they're doing to attract customers on november 30th. >> the really the small stores, the boutiques, restaurants, services. those are what keep everything going every day. >> reporter: after almost six years on main street in east greenwich, rhode island, lois hollingsworth, the owner of this store, knows how crucial shopping local issal to her
community. >> the people here are so supportive of the town in general. they're supportive of the small businesses. >> reporter: susan swanson who's owned the green door for 20 years agrees. >> it is our lifeline. without the support of the locals, we wouldn't be here. >> reporter: and so does courtney calscione. her boutique is one of the newest businesses on the block. >> it's about time that everyone starting supporting the small business. you are supporting your neighbor. >> reporter: that's why all three business owners are prepping for saturday, november 30th. >> small business saturday, i think, is a great reminder to other customers, and different customer base as well. it let's them know that we're here. >> reporter: here are some of the plans that they have in mind for attracting customers. >> we're going to have a few demonstrations and probably selling jewelry. we might have someone doing wood. we'll have someone doing crochet and i'm trying to get some live music in.
>> we will, of course, have in-store promotions and sales. we'll have probably cookies. >> we are going to give away to all of our customers who spend $50 or more a $25 holiday surprise bag, and if you spend $100 or more, you get a $50 holiday surprise bag. >> reporter: courtney, lois and susan aren't alone, either. >> if people didn't show up, we'd have empty stores. >> reporter: people up and down the street will be mashing the start of the holiday shopping season. >> they are going to find local designers that i showcase here as well as price-point items that will be affordable to pretty much everybody. >> we will be offering free refreshments, a gift with purchase, and some flowers for the ladies. we really make it a destination location. >> reporter: events like small business saturday are a welcome addition to what used to quieter on wall street. >> it has changed dramatically from being one of the only
people on the street to one of many now, and the company is wonderful. so we just hope it keeps increasing. >> reporter: eloquence jewelry owner says the day has only boosted his business. >> it's been good. the traffic's been good. every year it's been a little bit better than the year before. >> reporter: and iris says in her 26 years she's noticed a change for the better. she hopes the shop local movement in east greenwich is here to stay. >> it's just unbelievable. when i first came on main street, you could not have believed the stores were here and there. nothing like it is now. it's fabulous. you should definitely shop local. this is where you want to be, and you want to keep us in business. time now to answer some of your business questions. heather and reba are with us once again. this first one is about the reach of your personal brand. >> i believe that there are three elements to a personal
brand. your likability, your celebrity, and how much value you bring to customers or prospects. what are some other aspects of personal brand that can be used to increase one's personal brand? >> reba, i want to start with you because i know you've written a lot on personal brand. and do you separate personal brand from your company the brand? maybe that's a good way to start thinking about this. >> well, i think a lot of it depends on what your company is, but i think in one sense, you're the same. so you have to be really cognizant of that. that what you're representing is also representing your company. i think a big part of personal brand is authenticity. so you have to kind of live and breathe your own brand, but if you want to set yourself up apart from that, it gets a really -- it's hard. social media today, you have to be really careful that -- because you're seen as representing your company. drunk tweeting, you know,
facebook party pictures -- you have to almost monitor yourself as if you're a politician to make sure that there's nothing that's going to kind of conflict between who you are as a person and who you want your business to be. >> well, that's how, i mean, you have a personal brand. right? you're on the show on bravo and you have this business brand. >> yeah. >> do you think of it as a personal brand? >> no. i don't at all. i mean, it's -- to me, in a way it's kind of a new age, like, moniker for branding. like a personal brand. like you've got to start with a need. what are you building a brand for? there has to be a reason. what are you starting your business for? then you as a person, the founder was so important to the sales people because there's that personal connection. i am my brand and my brand is me. and no matter what i have become or go on to be in my life, yummy is always going to be a part of who i am. and that will never change, and you're right. i mean, i have to be careful. i'm on a reality show. you know?
i want to make sure that who i stand for, what i stand for and who i am comes clearly across, no matter what i do. >> right. >> ultimately, people are going to connect with you. as you were saying, reba, people connecting to you and as a result will want to buy your product? >> right, 100%. personally on the reality show, someone might like what i stand for and say and go check out my product, but others might be buying my product and want to make sure, that's the girl i bought into. >> right. >> they really go hand in hand and it is very important. >> next question is a question about a problem with attracting certain customers. >> we work so well with the men. where men are signing up to be members to engage in their personal brand. where with women, not so much. could you give us some advice in regards of how do we engage with women founders? >> well, i mean, she's a woman. so i would ask her. what do you think you're doing wrong? are you speaking to a woman? are you, you know, are you asking people who have come but
haven't signed up that are female, like, what are we missing? i think it's important to ask those questions. it's, again, hard for me to understand, like what are they selling? personal brand. like, you know, you walk into the showroom. what's in there? right? for me it's a difficult term. >> and so reba, what this also brings up to me is, if you are getting men and not women, should you even be concentrating on women? maybe your product is just for men? >> maybe your product is just for men, but in this particular case, i went on their website, and i looked. it's not very female friendly. they have this one placard that says, you know, what's your expertise? and there's five men in the picture. so if you want to cater to women, you have to build a place whether it's online or in-person, where women feel comfortable. women also tend to do a little bit more research than men before they sign on to something. so they're going to be going on your website, or doing some research, and you want to create this place where they feel
they're going to be taken care of. >> okay. well, heather and reba, great to see you both. thank you so much for coming on the program. thanks, guys. >> thanks. >> thank you. heather and reba always have really helpful advice about how to improve your business. now it's your turn. here are great ideas from small business owners like you. >> have quality of content on your website. content that flows and is clear. and maintain control of your online assets. passwords, databases, accounts. >> we have a painting for sales on the rolls. when they hit the great numbers we do a painting for them it is great big one to put on the wall so they know the company cares about them. >> you need to have a tag line or a title on your business card that makes people ask you a question. my tag line on my business card is, i'm the chief naval officer. so people always want to know
what is that? my tag line for my company is, it's your sexy little secret. so, of course, they want to know what my sexy little secret is. the sales proposal is often your last attempt to lock down a potential client. it you're looking to send proposals that satand out from the rest, check out our website of the week. and web-based proposals tailored to your business' needs. invent videos and pictures and the software comes with templates if you don't want to start from scratch. once you're finished, set to the potential customer. you can see when and for how long your client used the file. thanks, everyone, so much for joining me today. you can find out more about today's show on our website bp it is open forum.com/your business. you'll find all of today's segments plus web exclusive content with a lot more information to help your business grow. you can also follow us on twitter.
it's @msnbcyourbiz. do not forget to become a fan of the show on facebook. next week, the changing face of entrepreneurial work spaces's members of popular clubs are popping up all over the country helping businesses get off the ground by offering education, men toreship and community. plus, with small business saturday approaching we go to manchester, new hampshire, where one entrepreneur's online bridal registry is getting customers to skip the big box stores and shop local for the happy couple. i'm j.j. ramberg, and remember, we make your business, our business. ♪ ♪ you get your coffee here. you get your hair cut here. you find that certain thing you were looking for here,